In this week's episode of The (not so) Secret Storm, our heroine, Ali Haverty, files a Response to Applicants' Response to Motion to Compel.

Ali asks that counsel read her motion with as much care as she uses while choosing her words.  She then again states that she does not intend to disparage the Applicants in the previously mentioned forums, and adds a new one.  Ali doesn't intend to wear a sandwich board and pass out leaflets on Brooks Street either, just in case someone else does and the Tweedle twins decide to blame her for that too.  Hmmm... the list of things Ali doesn't intend to do, but which the Tweedles may think are possibilities, could be endless (and very entertaining!)  I'll leave the list of things that Ali could intend to do to disparage the applicants that she hasn't included on her list up to all of you readers in the comments section.  Since our Tweedle pals are such fans of this blog, you can help them write their next motion in this battle by giving them ideas!

Ali also doesn't intend to hypothesize the intentions of other parties in the case.  I guess that means she doesn't own a crystal ball, or maybe it's a Magic 8 Ball that Phil the Psychic uses in his mind reading tricks?

She also tries to clear up a little of their confusion regarding just what is being argued here.  I think they got so far off track in their last motion that they're having a hard time recalling what the argument was about before they turned it into a third party whine fest.  Maybe they lost track, but the rest of us haven't, despite their ridiculous antics designed to distract attention from the real issue.  The real issue here is why the Applicants felt the necessity to spend over $300,000 on state and federal lobbyists in 2009 when PATH is such a "sure thing".  Ali asks, “'Why should intervenors and this Commission be constricted so severely to PJM's figuring of future forecasts, as Applicants have repeatedly asked for, when the Applicants themselves have shown such
hesitation to heavily rely on them, as evidenced by their 2009 $300,000 hedge of civic, political, and related activities?' If this issue of need were such a sweet pitch, to be hit out of the park, Applicants would not be constantly reminding this Commission of FERC's backstopping authority. There would be no need, backstops are for the wild pitches."

Why, Tweedle twins, why?

Will the ticked-off Tweedle twins issue a Response to Haverty's Response to Applicants' Response to Motion to Compel?  Will Ali then pen a Response to Applicants' Response to Haverty's Response to Applicants' Response to Motion to Compel?  Or will the PSC Commissioners finally issue their response and cancel this soap opera?  Find out next week on The (not so) Secret Storm...
 
 
Here are some of the news links regarding the Formal Challenge Ali and I filed last Friday.

The Hur Herald (this is a great internet news source!)

The Journal (Martinsburg, WV)

The Journal's story got picked up by the AP (great job, Matt!!), and resulted in these two stories so far (sure to be many more to follow).

The Charleston Gazette

WRIC (Richmond)
 
 
Here's a copy of a letter PATH's counsel sent to the Frederick County, Maryland, Planning Commission regarding the Planning Commission meeting they failed to show up for in October, and which the Planning Commission graciously offered to reschedule for Jan. 19.  When faced with the prospect of getting what they asked for, PATH decided they really didn't want to proceed right now after all.  The letter reveals that PATH wants to put this opportunity for a future "re-do" of the Planning Commission process in their pocket until later.  They seem to think that PJM's new numbers will garner them a different result.  Really?  I don't see that happening.  I suspect the delay is to buy them time to do some more lobbying to attempt to influence the processes of the Maryland PSC and local government in Frederick County.

Last week, the MD-PSC staff came out with a motion claiming that PATH will "save money" for the electric customers in Maryland.  What a crock!  The motion talks about "congestion costs" that will be saved once PATH is built.  It completely fails to mention the costs of building the PATH project that are sitting on the other side of the scale.  Do these "congestion costs" cost Maryland electric customers more than building PATH will?  No.  Congestion costs are currently rebated to customers through the PJM Financial Transmission Rights system.  "Congestion costs" cost the power companies money, not the ratepayers.  However, the cost of building PATH will be borne by the ratepayers.  What PATH will do is shift these costs from the power companies onto the backs of ratepayers.

So, where did this PSC staff attorney get this crazy idea to try to push this flim-flam?  Could it have anything to do with PATH's lobbying in Maryland on the issue of Certificate of Need? (see page 38)   Yeah, PATH, we get it ;-)
 
 
Both power companies have fourth quarter 2010 earnings calls coming up.  A little birdie told me that these earnings calls could prove to be very interesting to the PATH opposition.  Perhaps the investment community is starting to suspect that the PATH project is on its last leg?

If you don't listen to them when they happen (sometimes you can find a link to an audio replay), you'll have to wait for transcripts to be posted on the web at a later date... sometimes it's months later.  So, here's a rundown on what I've been able to run down...

AEP's Earnings Call is scheduled for 9 a.m. on January 28 (that's tomorrow).  See this link to listen live.

Allegheny Energy is being a bit cagier with their information.  The only reference I have been able to find says their earnings call is scheduled for January 31 at 18:00 (6:00 p.m. - what an odd time for an earnings call!)  It's almost like they don't want you to listen in and take notes and hear the questions they will be asked by their investors...

Gosh, I wonder why?
 
 
Here's how PATH is dealing with Ardent Ventures LLC/Ten Stone LLC, the scammers who are trying to take advantage of landowners along PATH's proposed route to insert themselves into your land deal and skim off some cash to line their own pockets.  Even after saying that they "find the tone to be pretty misleading" and "Ardent360 is a private party seeking to aggregate property interests for negotiations with PATH-VA in order that Ardent360 might obtain some portion of the negotiated amount,"  behind the scenes, PATH still publicly performs an action that can only be called impotent.

They don't mention the company involved, they don't mention what landowners are being told, they don't mention these scammers are representing to landowners that they can get "a higher price" for their property.  It's like Vern and Archie aren't really saying anything at all, and this "action" on the part of PATH is about as useful for discouraging scammers as teats on a bull.  Very ineffectual and completely worthless -- but that's about what we can expect from PATH.

Fortunately, I know of at least one citizen who has her complaint paperwork all ready to go to the Attorney General.  PATH has once again squandered an opportunity to receive at least a modicum of respect from the affected landowners.  And this makes me wonder...  is PATH behind the Ardent Ventures Scam, despite their protests to the contrary?  It wouldn't be the first time we've suspected we were being lied to; but we'll leave that up to the Attorney General to determine.
 
 
Here's an article in the The Intermountain published yesterday.  Dominion's Alternative One is being backed by West Virginians who are urging the WV-PSC to support the plan.  The staff of the WV-PSC is already backing Dominion's Alternative One, which was part of their reasoning in their December motion to dismiss or toll the PATH case.  Dominion's Alternative One will rebuild existing transmission lines to modernize them and increase their capacity.  Half of this alternative has already been approved by both PJM and the WV-PSC, and construction is scheduled to begin this spring in the Eastern Panhandle with rebuilding of the current Mt. Storm-Doubs line which runs through southern Jefferson County.

Dominion's Alternative One requires NO new rights-of way and costs a mere one-third of the current estimate of the PATH project.  This is the sensible alternative that meets both PJM's "need" and protects the property rights, health and welfare of the citizens of West Virginia.  We should all support Dominion's Alternative One!

Try not to laugh too hard at Allegheny's lil' Coal Fella.  He's spinning so hard in that article, if he'd become untethered in the process, he may have shot off into space.  Let's see... what's the silliest thing he said:

1.  PJM "ordered" them to build PATH.  They continue to hide behind PJM as some sort of impartial electrical deity when we all know that Allegheny begged PJM to create a "need" for their project and that PJM has been accused of bias and conflict of interest for their stubborn support of PATH that flies in the face of all logical reason.

2.  Existing transmission lines "connect communities".  High-voltage transmission lines serve one purpose in West Virginia and that's to export electricity to states on the East Coast.  West Virginia exports 80% of the electricity it produces.  The "communities" connected by transmission lines are our power plants and East Coast cities.

3.  PATH is "needed" and the inservice date shifted because of the recession.  No, PATH's inservice date keeps being shifted further out into the future because the companies cannot prove a "need" for it and have to keep going back to the drawing table at PJM to come up with new numbers that only end up shredded by experts again.  It's a vicious circular cycle that is holding residents of three states hostage at the whim of an out-of-state corporate profit initiative.

4.  "Most" of the PATH line would run parallel to existing lines - 45%.  Since when is 45% considered "most".  It's less than half, not more than half.  "Most" is defined as the majority, not the minority.

5.  He's trying to insinuate that PATH's taking of 224 miles of new right-of-way in West Virginia is somehow minimized by running parallel with existing lines for this 45% of its course.  He even tries to minimize the other 55% of the line that will not parallel existing lines.  New rights-of-way are new rights-of-way.  They take land from West Virginians and ruin property for current and future use and enjoyment.  They lower taxes and place a higher burden on the rest of the taxpayers to fund necessary services.  This is true whether they parallel existing lines or not.

In his closing there is one thing the lil' Coal Fella got right, "It's really all about investing in our electrical grid," he said. "We've gone decades without any major upgrades. Rebuilding these lines is a good idea."

Yes, rebuilding these lines is a good idea!  Now put your money where your mouth is, Coal Fella, and join us in our support of Dominion's Alternative One and give up on Allegheny's loser PATH project.
 
 
Here's a downloadable quick version of the Formal Challenge for those who are having trouble with file size.  This version strips out the exhibits and is only just over 300kb -- quick and easy.  For those who prefer the entire package, the full version is still available here (or those who read the quick version and want to cross-reference with exhibits afterward).
 
 
Read the excellent guest commentary piece in today's Dominion Post (Morgantown, WV) written by Bill Howley.  He very succinctly explains how building new transmission lines does not make our grid more reliable.  Upgrading our current infrastructure at much less cost and with much less sacrifice on behalf of private landowners is feasible, on the table right now, and makes sense from all angles.   

A must read!
 
 
This silly, childish phrase was given to me as a comment from someone who read PATH Counsels' latest filing in the WV-PSC discovery battle going on between PATH and Ali Haverty.  Days later, it's still making me laugh!  The evening of the day PATH's motion was filed, a couple of friends presented me with bottle of wine named "Puppeteer" at the beginning of a meeting, and we all had a laugh at PATH's expense.  Because PATH went so far as to express their fake umbrage at me and my opinions which are posted on this blog to the PSC Commissioners, they show how easily they are led into making fools out of themselves publicly, and before a regulatory board to boot!  C'mon.... me vs. two huge corporations and I've brought them to their knees with my satire and bitchy opinions?  Get a grip, fellas! "Wahhhhh" indeed!

My opinions have nothing to do with Ali Haverty.  They're mine exclusively.  Just check that little "Author" box that appears on every page of this blog for a little reminder when you need one.  Also, I'm not pro se, and as written earlier, you falsely represented my "assertion" intended by the comment you presented out of context.  That's really no big surprise because ol' Melick has been telling the Commissioners what other parties in the case are thinking, right from the beginning (and consistently getting it wrong).  Ridiculous!  "Phil the Psychic" you're not.

But, back to PATH's fake "offense" at my opinions on the blog.  If you don't like them, don't read them, however, I'm still entitled to have an opinion.  I'll also defend your right to have a different opinion.  How boring life would be if we all had the same opinion!  This blog has always been open as a forum for different opinions, and maintains an open comment forum for anyone to express their own opinion. 

I have absolutely no tolerance for bullsh*t.  If you're going to tell me some incredible, ridiculous tale and expect me to politely pretend to believe you and remain silent, you're going to be disappointed.  I'm going to tell you that you're full of crap.  That's just the way I am.

I also have a certain style of writing.  It's called humor, satire or parody -- take your pick because it's often a combination of all the above.  There are so  many things about life that are plainly ridiculous, and PATH's assertion that their project is "needed" (and all the dumb stuff they do to try to prove it) is one of them.  When we can laugh at PATH, they're not so scary afterall, and they can be beaten.  I also know that PATH employees themselves laugh at the stuff I write, as long as they're not my current target.  You snicker and giggle because you know the things I say about your co-workers smack of truth, but you'd never have the nerve to say them yourself.  How many of the little nicknames I've given you have stuck behind each other's backs?  Go ahead, laugh!  You'll feel so much better!

Satire and parody is probably the subject of some of the most prolific writing about Constitutionally protected freedom of speech, so go ahead, make my day, little puppets!  I've been writing in this style for a long, long time and have even been paid for certain pieces that have been published.  Yup, I've been paid for the same kind of stuff I'm now giving away for free right here, imagine that!  I went on a hunt to see what old stuff I could find, and I think this was one of the first pieces I got paid for, but I'm not sure.  My writing history of awards and publication goes all the way back to elementary school, and that was a long, long time ago and I've forgotten a lot of it (way back in the days before computers kept track of this stuff for you).  If you're a mom, you'll love it.  If you're not a mom, be sure to call yours up after you read it and tell her how much you appreciate her.  The best humor is always found in our day-to-day common experiences, and often within those things that frustrate and challenge us the most.  As you can probably tell by the article, this was a true life experience I can still vividly remember.  However, instead of getting angry at a situation out of my control, I chose to laugh at it.  I still do that every single day, and if PATH wants me to stop writing about them, they need to go away and stop being a thorn in my side.

So, PATH, keep making fools out of yourselves by calling the wahhhhhhhhmbulance and pretending I'm hurting your itty, bitty corporate-personhood feelings. I really don't care!  And that's my opinion.  :-) 
 
 
This morning, Ali Haverty and I filed with FERC a Formal Challenge to Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, LLC 2010 Formula Rate Annual Update, with a copy served on PATH's Counsel.  PATH now has 20 days to respond to the Challenge.

Just a warning:  It's a large file -- begin downloading and then go do something else -- like file your tax return, and come back later.  But don't give up on the link, it works.  You didn't expect a nearly $4 million dollar campaign of imprudent and improperly recovered expenses, advocacy-building and influence buying to come on the back of a gum wrapper, did you?

Have fun reading, everyone.  I'm going to go catch up on all those things I've neglected for the past two weeks while I've been working on this, like eating and sleeping.

Note to Randy and Phil:  Since we can all stop pretending that you're not reading this now, I'd just like to mention that you completely misinterpreted the meaning of my comment that you submitted to the WV-PSC the other day.  This Challenge is what I meant when I said, "this program of influence buying with ratepayer money".  Got it now?  I'll expect an apology and correction to be filed next week.  Have a nice weekend!  :-)